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    India Launches 5th Oil & Gas Licensing Round


It is the second contest to take place under what the government has touted as attractive new upstream legislation.

by: Joseph Murphy

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India Launches 5th Oil & Gas Licensing Round

India has opened its fifth open acreage oil and gas licensing round, inviting operators to compete for 11 blocks covering a combined 19,789 km2.

The blocks are spread across eight basins in six states, India’s Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) said in a release on January 14 announcing the round’s launch. Eight are onshore and three are offshore – two covering shallow and one ultra-deep waters. The closing date for bids is March 18.

The latest offering is based on expressions of interest (EoI) that India received last year, the DGH said, noting it expected the round to generate $400-450mn of initial investment in exploration.

India has awarded 94 blocks in licensing rounds over the past two and a half years, in an aggressive push to bolster investment in its upstream sector. Private producer Vedanta Resources swept up 51 of the blocks, while state-owned players Oil India and ONGC took 21 and 17 respectively.

The last round saw seven blocks auctioned off, all to ONGC. It was the first contest to take place under the government’s new Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing Policy (Help).

Help, which uses a revenue-sharing contract model, “is a giant step towards improving the 'Ease of Doing Business' in the Indian exploration & production sector,” the DGH said. “It comes with attractive and liberal terms like reduced royalty rates, no oil cess, marketing and pricing freedom, round the year bidding, freedom to investors for carving out blocks of their interest, a single licence to cover both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources, exploration permission during the entire contract period, and an easy, transparent and swift bidding and awarding process.”

The directorate invited EoIs for the sixth round on December 1 last year, with a deadline for submissions of March 31 2020. EoI for the seventh round will be collected between April 1 and July 31.